New U.S. Report for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland finds Housework and Caretaking Responsibilities Limit Women’s Career Choices and Impact their Well-Being

Press Release

IWPR Contact: Lea Woods, woods@iwpr.org | 202-785-5100

Washington, DC— New analysis finds despite women entering the workforce in record numbers, they are more likely to be saddled with housework and caretaking demands compared with men.

The Oxfam America-IWPR study finds women in the United States spend 37 percent more time on household and care work than their male counterparts, limiting career choices and economic mobility, and affecting their overall health and well-being. Black and Latina women spend nearly twice as much time on unpaid household and care work as their male counterparts.

The gap is widest among younger women. Young women ages 15-24 spend 54 percent more time than men in their peer group on household and care work.

Weak or non-existent family policies, the gender pay gap, and lingering societal attitudes about the roles of women and men in the workplace and at home all contribute to the imbalance.

The new research will be presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by Oxfam America in an effort to bring attention to the persistent barriers working women face in entering and staying in the workforce, the need for public and workplace policies that support women and families, and to spur public investments in childcare and the care of older adults.

“The disproportionate share of unpaid household and care work that women perform has significant employment and economic costs for them,” said Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., report author and Associate Director of Research, IWPR. “Caregiving takes time, and when caregiving duties become extensive, many caregivers, especially women, cut back time in paid work. As a society, we have to do more to make sure women have the support and policies they need to take of their families and participate in the workforce.”

“Oxfam America is proud to partner with IWPR on this groundbreaking research to shed light on the unequal distribution of unpaid care work that is essential for families and societies to thrive, but which limits women’s career choices, income, and personal development. A more gender-just economy is possible, but it will take concerted effort and bold policy action to build an economic system that offers opportunity—and care—for all people.”

— Kimberly Pfifer Ph.D., Research Director-Oxfam America

About the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.